Reducing Injuries at Your Laundromat
There are more than 37 million injury-related emergency room visits per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a business owner, you may be liable if an injury occurs at your commercial laundry facility. That’s why it’s important to know the risks, be vigilant, and keep your laundromat in tip-top shape. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of injuries in the laundry industry and how you can avoid them.
Know the Risks
The following are some of the most common safety risks and types of injuries at laundromats.
- Fires: Multiple machines are plugged in to outlets, dryers can get hot, and lint screens can get clogged. Not to mention, there are likely flammable cleaners stored in the facility. All these factors increase the risk of fires quickly starting and spreading at laundromats. Between 2010 and 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to almost 16,000 fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines each year. These fires resulted in 13 civilian deaths, 440 injuries, and $238 million in property damage.
- Slips and falls: Falls account for more than 8 million hospital visits each year, according to the National Fall Safety Institute. While slips and falls can happen anywhere, laundromats can pose increased risks due to leaking washing machines, stray clothing and laundry baskets on the floor, spilled detergent, and a number of other factors. You also may have patrons attempting to climb on top of stools or laundry equipment to reach products on high shelves, making falls more likely to happen and causing damage to your machines.
- Burns: Dryers, irons, steamers, and other equipment often found in laundry facilities can reach very high temperatures. That means burns can easily happen if you, your employees, and your customers aren’t paying attention and following proper safety precautions.
- Chemicals: Whether it’s bleach, detergent, or softener, people use a lot of chemically-based products to get clothes clean. Plus, it’s likely you also have a wide variety of other harsh chemicals on hand to keep your laundry business clean. These chemically-based products can be dangerous, causing skin and eye irritation or worse. They are especially harmful to young children who may consume these substances if not properly stored and kept out of reach.
Make Injury Prevention a Priority
Of course, those listed above are just a few of the potential injury risks at commercial laundry facilities. While some accidents and injuries are unavoidable, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce injuries at your laundromat, avoid a costly lawsuit, and keep yourself, your employees, and your patrons safe.
- Have safety materials available. You always want to be prepared. That means you should have working fire extinguishers and first aid kits that are easily accessible and well-labeled. You should also have wet floor signs, mops, and brooms in case of spills. Gloves and eye protection can also help prevent injuries when handling chemicals. Be sure your customers and employees know when and how to use these safety products.
- Post safety signs. Signs can be a great way to prevent injury and incidents. Whether it’s a large sign with laundromat safety rules or a smaller notice posted near dryers reminding patrons to clean out the lint filters, signs can help keep safety and injury prevention at the forefront of your visitors’ minds. Make sure signs are easily readable and attention-grabbing.
- Store and label cleaners properly. Whether it’s soaps and detergents available for purchase or the cleaners you use to clean the laundromat floors, any chemically-based substance should be stored in the proper containers and out of reach of children. Chemicals should also be labeled so there’s no confusion when employees and patrons are handling the products.
- Train your employees. You may know the risks, but others working at your facility may not. If you’re not there, the employees are your first line of injury prevention defense. Make sure they know what risks to keep an eye out for, where safety equipment and emergency phone numbers are located, and what the procedures are if a patron is being unsafe or an incident occurs. When new safety policies are put into place, be sure employees are properly briefed.
- Consistently inspect your laundry facility. Being vigilant is one of the best ways to prevent an injury or incident before it occurs. You don’t have to wait for government inspections or until an emergency occurs to take stock of your facility and any potential risks. Have a safety checklist and make building and laundry equipment inspections part of your daily routine.
- Maintain your equipment. Commercial laundry machines should be checked and cleaned on a daily basis and a regular maintenance schedule should be put in place. This will help assure that machines are working properly and that potential risks are taken care of before they become a problem. Coin-O-Matic offers free commercial laundry equipment service training that can help you keep your machines in working order and prevent injuries or fires due to broken machines. If you’re using old, outdated washers and dryers, it might be time to consider upgrading your commercial laundry equipment.
- Take care of issues quickly. It can be easy to let issues slide or put them on the backburner as you deal with other day-to-day responsibilities of running a business. However, if there is a spill or the floor or broken down machine, make sure you respond as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the higher the risk of an injury occurring.
In case an incident does turn into an insurance claim or legal issue, keeping proper records is a must. Any time someone falls, needs first aid, or contacts emergency responders should be documented. You should also keep track of machine maintenance, repairs, and insurance information, as those may come in handy down the line.
When it comes reducing injuries at your laundromat, it’s about using common sense and keeping risks at the forefront of your mind. Read more about laundromat safety or contact our team of experts to chat about how we can help improve your laundry business